Harley-Davidson Sportster Iron 1200 (XL1200NS) Maintenance Schedule and Service Intervals

This is the maintenance schedule and service intervals for the Harley-Davidson Sportster Iron 1200 (XL1200NS), also known as just the Iron 1200.

Harley-Davidson has been making the Sportster line for a very long time in many incarnations. But of course over time they’ve made changes and improvements, adding a belt drive (it used to have a chain), fuel injection, and many other nice-to-haves.

The Harley-Davidson Sportster Iron 1200 (XL1200NS) was made from the 2018 model year (see this press release from Cycle World). It’s the bigger sibling to the Harley-Davidson Iron 883, which has been in production in this form for longer, but with the bigger motor in it. The frame, suspension, and brakes are the same.

The Harley-Davidson Iron 1200 is based on a 73 cubic inch air-cooled fuel-injected V-twin engine that makes 100 Nm (73 ft-lb) of torque at 3500 rpm, with a lot of torque right off idle to get through traffic or go cruising. It has an old-school pushrod-actuated two-valve motor.

Final drive is via a belt. That, combined with self-adjusting hydraulic lifters for the valves, makes the Sportster Iron 1200 a very low-maintenance motorcycle.

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Harley-Davidson Sportster Iron 1200 Service Intervals

Like other Sportsters, maintenance for the Harley-Davidson Sportster Iron 1200 can be summarised as

  • 5000 mile / 8000 km maintenance intervals where you have to change the oil and filter, and check everything.
  • Every two services, tighten everything up back to torque spec, and lubricate major bearings.
  • Every 2-4 years replace fluids, or as needed.

You don’t need to do a valve service on the Harley-Davidson Sportster Iron 1200 as it has self-adjusting hydraulic lifters. However, they can develop valve noise as the engine wears. If so, get a dealer to look at it — there are any number of repairs or even aftermarket solutions.

What you need to service your Harley-Davidson Sportster Iron 1200

Most of the fluids you need to keep your H-D Iron 1200 maintained are best obtained from your local dealer. But here’s what they are.

PartHarley-Davidson Sportster Iron 1200 spec
Engine OilUse Genuine Harley-Davidson H-D 360 Motorcycle Oil 20W50, or another oil certified for a diesel engine with certification CH-4, CI-4, and CJ-4, preferably (in descending order of preference) 20W50, 15W40, and 10W50. One well-recommended option is Mobil 1 20W-50 V-Twin Synthetic.
Oil filterUse a Hiflofiltro HF170RC filter. The oil filter wrench part number is 94686-00.
Transmission lubricantUse Formula+ Transmission and Primary Chaincase Lubricant. Two good alternatives are Red Line Primary Case Oil and Amsoil Primary Chaincase Lubricant.
Brake fluidUse only DOT 4 brake fluid, e.g. Castrol DOT 4. The H-D part number is HD-48497-A.
Spark plugUse an NGK DCPR7E or DCPR7EIX spark plug.
Brake padsUse EBC brake pads for better bike and less fade. FA640HH on the front, and FA254HH on the rear.
Maintenance parts for the Harley Davidson Sportster Iron 1200

Maintenance schedule for the Harley-Davidson Sportster Iron 1200 (XL1200NS)

Below is the service schedule for the Harley-Davidson Iron 1200. This comes from the manual and maintenance schedule for all XL1200 Sportsters, but has been clarified for legibility.

Generally maintenance for the Harley-Davidson Sportster line can be summarised as

  • 5000 mile / 8000 km maintenance intervals where you have to change the oil and filter, and check everything.
  • Every two services, tighten everything up back to torque spec, and lubricate major bearings.
  • Every 2-4 years replace fluids, or as needed.
  • No valve service needed.

Notes on the maintenance schedule:

  • (*) Items marked with an asterisk (oil, filters, controls etc.) should be maintained more regularly if you ride in severe conditions (including high temps, dust, rough roads, after storage, short runs, heavy stop/go traffic, or poor fuel quality)
  • See torque specs in the service manual for all items to re-torque
  • When there’s a period (e.g. “every year”), observe the earlier of the two maintenance intervals (time or distance)
mi x 1000151015202530
km x 10001.681624324048Every
Perform standard inspection checklist (see below)XXXXXXXYear
Replace engine oil and filter*XXXXXXXYear
Inspect drive belt and sprocketsXXXXXXX
Check drive belt tension, and adjust if necessaryXXXXXXX
Adjust primary chainXXXXXXX
Adjust clutch*XXXXXXX
Replace transmission lubricant*XXXX
Adjust steering head bearingsXXXX
Replace brake fluid (Castrol DOT 4)2 years, or sooner if moisture content greater
Replace spark plugs (DCPR7E)X2 years
Grease steering head bearingsX
Rebuild front forks (Disassemble, inspect, rebuild, replace fork oil)40000 mi / 64000 km
Replace fuel filter*100000 mi (160000 km)
Spoked rims (if fitted) — Torque wheel spoke torque, front and rearXXX
Torque hand control switch housing screwXXXXYear
Torque upper front stabilizer link to engine bracket mounting screwXXXXYear
Torque front isolator mounting bolt and nutXXXXYear
Torque front axle nutXXXXYear
Torque brake banjo boltXXXXYear
Torque rear axle nutXXXXYear
Harley Davidson Sportster/Iron Maintenance Schedule

Standard Inspection Checklist

Below is the standard inspection checklist for the motors on the Sportster / Iron platform. Do these items according to the schedule above.

Standard inspection checklist for the Harley-Davidson Sportster / Iron
Inspect air filter, clean/replace if required*
Inspect brake pads and discs
Inspect front and rear brake fluid level & reservoir cover tightness
Check front and rear brake fluid moisture content
Check front and rear tire pressure and tread
Inspect oil and brake lines (check for leaks/abrasion)
Inspect fuel lines and fittings (check for leaks/abrasion)
Check, Adjust, Lubricate throttle controls
Lubricate jiffy stand
Lubricate brake and clutch controls
Inspect electrical equipment and switches
Inspect exhaust system, fasteners and shields (check for leaks, cracks, loose or missing fasteners/shields)*
Check 12 volt battery – terminal torque, connection cleanness, lubricate terminals with contact lubricant
Check component and system functions (Road test)
Standard Inspection Checklist — Harley-Davidson Sportster / Iron

Tire sizes and pressures for the Harley-Davidson Sportster Iron 1200

The Harley-Davidson Sportster Iron 1200 runs a Michelin Scorcher “31” tyre that’s made specifically for the Iron 1200.

Below is a table of the recommended tyre sizes and pressures for the Sportster Iron 1200.

WheelTyre sizeTyre pressure (cold)
Front100/90 B19 M/C 57H30 psi / 207 kPa
Rear150/80 B16 M/C 77H40 psi / 276 kPa
Harley-Davidson Sportster Iron 1200 tyre size

About the Harley-Davidson Sportster Iron 1200

In a world of high-speed, high-tech bikes, the Harley-Davidson Sportster line has remained fairly simple and low-tech. The Iron 1200 is a rider’s motorcycle — not the fastest, not the best handling, but for certain riders it’s exactly the bike they want.

You can talk for ages about the virtues of Harley-Davidsons etc. but the reality is that if you know you want one, you already are shopping for one, and you know what you’re getting.

In a nutshell, the Iron 1200 is a back-to-basics motorcycle. It has a fairly upright, comfortable riding position, with mini ape bars and mid controls.

Like other bigger Sportsters, the Iron 1200 has an air-cooled 1202cc Evolution engine with a compression ratio of 10:1. The peak power is unstated, but it makes peak torque of 99 Nm (73 ft-lb) at 3500 rpm, and isn’t designed to rev to the moon. The motor definitely produces a lot of thrust and you never feel short in everyday riding.

The final drive is via belt, which is a lot lower maintenance than a chain. You just have to check the tension periodically and adjust it if necessary.

One of the best features of the Evolution engine (like other Big Twins) from a maintenance perspective is the self-adjusting hydraulic lifters. In a world where valve service is almost mandatory (and often skipped), the Harley-Davidson Sportster Iron 1200 doesn’t ever need its valves serviced. This is a huge win!

The Iron 1200 has fairly simple suspension. At the front there are non-adjustable right-side-up forks. They’re cartridge-style, so the ride is more plush than simpler damping rod setups.

The rear suspension is a variable rate spring with adjustable preload.

Front braking is done by a single disc and dual-piston caliper. Again, a very simple setup, that doesn’t provide a ton of stopping power for the heavy-ish bike, but also is very easy to maintain (e.g. disassemble) if things go wrong. If you want more brakes, consider the dual disc-brake XL1200CX Roadster.

Manual for the Harley-Davidson Sportster Iron 1200

The above maintenance schedule came from the manual for the Harley-Davidson Sportster Iron 1200 (XL1200NS).

You can find it online here.

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